Seven lawyers seeking alternatives to the partnership career path have taken the option of being promoted to the newly created position of "executive counsel" at Freehills.
Freehills announced the new role following feedback within the firm that senior lawyers desired career paths that could promote their position with the firm, but that did not require them to become equity partners.
Freehills managing partner for people, Peter Butler, told Lawyers Weekly earlier this year that the firm had been losing high-calibre senior lawyers simply because they could not find an alternative to partner that could progress their career beyond the senior associate level.
"We lose these very senior lawyers because, while they don't aspire to be partners, they regard a role less than that - senior associate for instance - as being sub-optimal," he said.
The firm said that the executive counsel position would form an adjunct-leadership function within the firm, particularly with a focus on people, leadership, legal and practice management, client relationships and project management.
Freehills chief executive and managing partner Gavin Bell said the seven senior lawyers had applied for the position for different reasons, but the group included some of the most experienced senior associates and special counsel from litigation, banking and finance and corporate practice groups.
"This role will allow them to make a meaningful contribution to the leadership of the firm without taking on all the responsibilities of partnership," said Bell.
The appointments included Joanna Taylor and Neil Jack in the Melbourne office, Melanie Bouton and Anne Clarke in Sydney, Mary Boittier in Brisbane, Anthony Di Biase in Perth and, in Singapore, Andrea Wookey.
- Angela Priestley